The Biden administration approved $235 million in security assistance to Egypt on Thursday despite humanitarian concerns that have withheld it for the past two years.
It means now only $85 million of the $320 million given annually by the United States to Egypt with conditions will be withheld. The other $980 million is given without conditions.
According to The New York Times, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a waiver to release the money after concluding that U.S. interests outweighed congressional benchmarks for Egypt’s human rights record.
But the Department of State maintains that it is concerned with the deteriorating civil rights situation in the country, spurred by the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — a retired military officer.
The $85 million still withheld represents the cited continued concern. It’s tied to Egypt’s record of releasing political prisoners, preventing harassment of U.S. citizens, and providing detainees with due process.
Blinken’s move comes a month after 11 Democrats on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the secretary urging that Egypt be denied any conditions-based military funding.
“We are strongly concerned by reports from both the State Department as well as numerous credible human rights and civil society organizations about the persistent and continued systemic violations of human rights in Egypt,” the group wrote.
“As the department weighs whether to grant Egypt the $320 million, … we call on you not to certify that Egypt has taken ‘sustained and effective steps’ to implement the criteria as required by law,” they added.
The Times noted that Egyptian authorities are still arresting individuals for perceived opposition to el-Sisi’s government, as human rights groups say that the country is arresting three people for every prisoner released.
Luca Cacciatore ✉
Luca Cacciatore, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is based in Arlington, Virginia, reporting on news and politics.
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